Is a Law Degree Helpful For A Career in Politics?
If you want to get into politics, you may want to first attend law school.
Chambers Associate, a legal career guide, recently found that out of the 535 members who make up Congress, 40% had attended law school. For senators, nearly 54% have obtained a law degree. The House contains 37% law degree holders. The study was reported by Bloomberg Law.
More Democrats Have Law Degrees
When broken down by party, there are more Democrats with law degrees in both the House and the Senate.
What about prestige? It seems more Democrats attended top 14 law schools (ranked by US News) than Republicans in both the House and Senate. Overall, you’ll find 58 T14 alumni among Congressional Democrats compared to 16 among Republicans.
At Harvard Law, in Massachusetts, the school’s alumni are overwhelmingly Democrat. Looking at the House, there are 15 Harvard Law alumni. Zero House Republicans attended Harvard Law.
Thomas Lewis, the author, notes that this may be due to Massachusetts’ blue state politics, but he says it’s reflective of a greater pattern.
“If we look at the trend across the T14 as a whole, it’s hard not to see the ‘elite’ label they wear as a factor,” Lewis writes. “The identity politics of modern-day America would provide an easy answer: these elite institutions stand in stark contrast to the GOP (so the narrative goes), the natural home of self-made business people whose authority stems from their understanding of the everyday America they inhabit, rather than the minutiae of case law.”
A Career in Politics
Experts say law school can provide excellent training for a career in politics.
“Though a law degree isn’t necessarily a requirement to work in a political or policy-related job, many successful professionals in these types of jobs have J.D.s.,” Julie Ketover, a contributor for US News and consultant at Stratus Law School Admissions Consulting, writes. “Law school provides excellent training in analytical reasoning, research and writing, all of which are useful skills in most jobs in politics.”
Lewis, the author, says studying law can help individuals learn how to govern effectively.
“The qualifications of politicians are a perennial point of contention,” he writes. “Some people idolize real-world experience and realism, others would rather their leaders were educated to the hilt and idealistic—I doubt we will ever reach agreement on this issue. What we can say is that these findings display an encouraging loyalty to the study of law as a means of governing effectively. Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson might not like much about the America of today, but I reckon they’d be happy about that.”